Last year, in an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit, Congress suggested lowering the budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Although the request was quickly quashed, a new cost-saving proposal issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) made similar implications, suggesting that around 235,000 disabled veterans be removed from the VA’s Individual Unemployability Program in 2020. Veterans removed from the program could expect to see their incomes decrease by around $1,300 a month. Although a number of veterans groups have urged the White House and the VA to disavow the proposal, its fate remains to be seen, so if you have questions or concerns about the program or another type of VA benefit, it is critical to speak with an experienced veterans benefits attorney who is well-versed in federal law.
The Individual Unemployability Program
If enacted, the CBO’s suggestions would remove more than 235,000 veterans from the Individual Unemployability Program, which is available to qualifying veterans who:
- Have received disability ratings of between 60 and 100%; and
- Are unable to secure employment because of those disabilities.
Those who are accepted into the program are eligible to receive additional compensation, as well as access to healthcare. In its budget proposal, the CBO suggested removing veterans from this program once they turn 67 years old, as this is when beneficiaries become eligible for Social Security benefits. The group also suggested creating an alternative option that would permit veterans who are already enrolled in the program to keep their benefits, while only applying the age threshold to those who enroll after December of next year.
Other Proposed VA Cuts
In addition to significantly reducing the number of veterans who can participate in the Individual Unemployability Program, the CBO’s budget proposal also suggests making more intensive cuts to VA benefits. For instance, one of the group’s options involved stopping disability compensation payments to veterans suffering from any of the following seven medical conditions:
- Arteriosclerotic heart disease;
- Multiple Sclerosis;
- Uterine fibroids;
- Crohn’s disease; and
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Yet another option would reduce disability compensation for veterans by 30% once they reach the age of 67 years old, and would completely end payments to veterans with disability ratings of less than 30%.
Although Congress approved a budget of more than $200 billion for the VA in 2019, many veterans and advocacy groups remain concerned that some or all of the CBO’s proposed budget cuts will be approved, which would affect thousands of veterans who are financially dependent upon the VA as a result of their disabilities. To find out more about these proposals and how they could affect your own claim, please contact our legal team today.
Call Our Office Today to Set up a Free Consultation with a Dedicated Attorney
To speak with an experienced veterans benefits attorney about filing a form 9 or submitting your own claim, please call The Comerford Law Office, LLC at 312-863-8572 today. And remember, initial case evaluations are offered free of charge.